A unique brooding drama
LGwriter | Astoria, N.Y. United States | 10/16/2001
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Shot mostly with a filter of subdued blue, and occasional greens for trees and grass, The Well, an Australian drama, is more than anything else an exercise in mood. A middle-aged spinster, well acted by Pamela Rabe, lives with her old decrepit father and cares for him with an undercurrent of grudge. When he dies she takes into her house a much younger woman, also well played by Miranda Otto, who is the opposite of the older woman--in age and temperament both.Rabe's Hester has lighter moments with Otto's Cathy that belie the powerful differences between them. These behavioral differences are the substance of the story, such as it is. Truth and deceit, and the subtle--and indeterminate--loss of sanity that comes with co-dependent relationships lie at the heart of what happens here. Be advised that this is not a lesbian film, but rather one about how much people need each other.This is not a bad film, but I found it curiously lacking in resonance--i.e., it did not stay with me after viewing. The three stars are for the two principals, who are excellent, and for the unique color/light fusion that was used to shoot the film. Perhaps it could have expanded and intensified the incidents that emphasized the relationship, thus giving it more resonance."
Could have been great
J from NY | New York | 11/12/2004
(3 out of 5 stars)
""The Well" would have worked much better as a straight out drama than a film which tries to incorporate a "supernatural" element into it. On the cover a critic from the New York Times raves about how it is the creepiest exercise in cinematic sleight of hand since "The Blair Witch Project". I wonder if he even saw this movie.
There are top knotch performances in this film, and at times they even approach greatness:Pamela Rabe as the aging, self controlled Hester, gives us a character we can fully understand and sympathize with. She seems at the outset to be all common sense, self control, but a slightly unstable and charming young woman, Katherine (Miranda Otto), brings out the joy of life which she has repressed for years.
The relationship between the two women is tumultuous and touching. The love is not entirely reciprocal: although we can see that the free spirited, rather loopy young Katherine loves and cares for Hester, she is a little too free to commit to anything. Hester, on the other hand, is willing to sell her father's house on a spur of the moment decision to go to Europe with Katherine. If the whole film had dealt with the relationship between the two and decided to work on that, it might have been famous. The performances are Oscar worthy.
But somewhere along the line, the screenwriter felt the need to inject an extraneous plot element which basically shoots the whole movie down. Katherine is half drunk after a party the two attend and hits a man on the road. The film actually begins with this incident, then does a backtrack of how Katherine met and became so endeared to Hester. While Katherine acts more or less gleefully insane throughout the whole film, this spirals her already unhinged mind into total insanity, and Hester, trying to protect the young woman, has to do most of the dirty work in terms of dumping the man's body into the the well outside their new home (hence the title).
The stressed out Hester finds out that the man Katherine ran over was a robber, and when attempting to flee they find that all the money from the sale of their home is gone. Hester wants Katherine to go down into the well and get the money, but Katherine is in no shape to do any such thing. She starts looking more pale and ominous than the girl from "The Ring" and starts babbling about how the man in the well is speaking to her, and their mutual love. I won't deny that some of this is frightening, particularly a dream sequence in which Hester actually begins to feed into Katherine's delusions, but it becomes pointless and meandering from this point on. The ending is so unsatisfying, answering none of the questions built up so skillfully all throughout the film, that it leaves one disgusted.
This a movie worth watching, but it leaves you with that worst of all feelings one can come away from a film with: it could have been great, but screwed itself over."
Good concept but very poorly done
J from NY | 12/21/2001
(2 out of 5 stars)
"The plot has so much potential, it's a pity they ended up producing such a dull movie. Really the only things that kept me watching it was the hope that it would get better (hope springs eternal) and the fact that I have found so many times in the past that what starts out as a dull, slow-paced movie often ends up to be a gem. This is NOT the case with this movie. Only for a few minutes in the movie does it pick up beyond a snail's pace. It's difficult to sympathize with any of the characters when the overall feeling they give you is one of annoyance. I hope you have better luck with this movie than I did."